Finding Effective Enrichments for Group Housed Sows
Group housing is a socially enriched environment, but aggression is still a risk due to competition for resources like territory and food. Providing enrichment can reduce aggression and stereotypic behaviours. The Canadian Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs requires that barns have multiple forms of enrichment but how it should be provided and what form it should be in is unclear. Different types of enrichment were observed in a slatted floor system. Straw, rope and wood suspended from a chain can be used as enrichments. Straw on the pen floor had the greatest response. Interaction increased when enrichments were rotated, showing that novelty is important. Sows in the electronic feeding system barn interacted much more than those in the free-access stall barn. When enrichments are more sparse with higher perceived value, such as a small amount of straw, competition for the resource increases and dominant sows have greater access.
Finding Effective Enrichments for Group Housed Sows (full article)